The true GOTHIC NOVEL is a novel in which magic, mystery, and chivalry are the chief characteristics. Where a suit of armor may suddenly come to life among ghosts and clanking chains. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein is an example of the genre. The novels of Charlotte Bronte and the mystery and horror type of short story exploited by Edgar Allen Poe contain materials and devices traceable to the GOTHIC NOVEL.
The term is today often applied to works, such as Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, that lack the Gothic setting or the medieval atmosphere but that attempt to create the same atmosphere of brooding and unknown terror as the true GOTHIC NOVEL. It is also applied to a host of currently popular tales of "damsels in distress" in strange and terrifying locales. Author Isak Dinesen has used the term "Gothic" in titles to indicate simultaneously a literal setting in northern Europe and a fantastic spirit combining horror, crime, romance, and realism.
(This post has been inspired by and in some instances, directly quoted from A Handbook to Literature, 8th Edition, by William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman)